One of the most celebrated pastors in Akwa Ibom State is Dr. Abel Damina, senior pastor of the Power City International. In and outside the state, his followers have nicknamed him Global Baba, apparently because of the apparent popularity he now attracts across the world. In the recent past, his teachings have attracted so much criticism, even from very senior pastors everywhere. His teachings on tithe, water baptism, Holy Communion, among others, have become so controversial. TNN encountered him in Uyo, where he took time to defend the teachings and why he has become an object of attacks, to the extent that his fellow pastors nurse evil plans against him.
He also spoke on the activities of a group of pastors in Akwa Ibom who are now known and addressed Fathers of Faith.
He spoke with OFONIME UMANAH.
A lot of people, including pastors, have been criticizing some of the messages you teach. How are you coping with all the attacks and criticisms?
It’s normal. You know, the gospel when it is preached in truth attracts criticisms. Even Jesus, when he was on earth, was criticized by the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were custodians of the law. They never agreed with Jesus because Jesus didn’t come to present a religion. Jesus came to reveal God to us. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were custodians of the Torah and the Torah is Genesis to Deuteronomy. So they were in a religion, but Jesus brought life; Jesus came to talk about God, the character of God, the love of God, the purpose of God for man and Jesus tried to show the Pharisees that everything they were holding onto as the Torah was pointing to him. In John 5:39, Jesus said to the Jews ‘you search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life, but there are they which testified of me.’ So, that is why there was always that clash between Jesus and the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and it continues for the rest of lifetime. Anytime you come up with the truth of the gospel, there will be people that will criticize you, there will be people that will persecute you, there will be people that will attack you because the gospel of Christ attracts persecution. So for me, it’s fine. I knew it before I started preaching this truth, that I will be persecuted, I will be maligned. I knew that was coming, but I made up my mind that my loyalty is to Jesus Christ because he alone died for me; he alone paid the price for my forgiveness and for my eternity with God. That’s where my loyalty is and that’s what keeps my focus on.
What’s the worst thing you have heard from people who are criticizing you?
Well, the worst thing is that people say I’m heretic. Basically, that’s what they say that what I preach is heresy, is not the truth, you know, that’s the worst, nothing else, what else can anybody say?
Yeah! But from which corners have you heard the worst of criticisms?
Well, the other time they said one preacher came out and said- I’ve not seen him, I’ve not watched, I don’t even know who he is- that he said that because I preach that water baptism is not new testament, that he said I will go into the bush like Nebuchadnezzar, I will be mad. This was some years ago. When they told me, I just laughed. He is a preacher and he even did a video on it and circulated it all over the internet and then recently they said another preacher picked my teaching on water baptism and put it in his church and he was playing the clips and interjecting and attacking and trying to explain how that I am wrong, my teachings are not right. Those are the things that could be worse, nothing more, that people who are supposed to know, but I don’t blame some of these preachers. The truth of the matter is that most preachers in Africa have not been properly trained. They just stood up, said they have a call of God, picked their Bible with zeal, started fasting, praying and started giving the Bible their own interpretation. And so I will not be surprised that people who call themselves preachers will attack sound contextual interpretation that is theologically sound scripture, because you see, the Bible is a theology, the theology of the Bible is Christology, the content of Christology is Sotheology, which means that the Bible is the revelation of God in Christ. The book of first John 5: 25 says ‘we know that the son of God is come and has given us an understanding that we may know him that is true and we are in him that is true, this is the true God, Jesus Christ and eternal life,’ which means that the revelation of God is encapsulated in the person of Jesus Christ. So, if you don’t know Jesus, you can’t know God because God is revealed in Christ. So when a preacher does not understand the Christo-centricity of the Bible, he is bound to beat about the bush, he is bound to struggle with sound doctrine. I am not surprised that some people are still struggling with the truth, but we keep praying that they will come to the knowledge of the truth.
Are you not surprised that somebody like Bishop Oyedepo is also one of those who has openly criticized you? I watched the video where he talked about tithe and they put your teaching side by side with his own. Would you say Bishop Oyedepo does not also know what he is saying?
Well, give it to him, Bishop Oyedepo has done so well. He has done well for the body of Christ. He has tried over the years. He has laboured and some of these fathers who have laboured and have done so much to the best of their ability for the body of Christ, we respect their labour, we respect their years of investing into the gospel and we do not take that for granted at all. But when it comes to sound doctrinal positions, we may differ because it depends on what his understanding of scripture is.
But it’s the same Bible?
You see, it’s the same Bible. Like I said in the beginning, the Pharisees and Jesus, same Bible but the message was different. For example, the Pharisees said you cannot do anything on Sabbath day and Jesus healed on Sabbath day and they attacked Jesus and Jesus said to them, ‘man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is made for man, and I am the Lord of the Sabbath.’ What Jesus was saying is, the Sabbath was pointing to my person. Sabbath means rest, I am the real rest, the Sabbath was a figurative communication, it was a metaphor, pointing to my person, I’m the real deal. But the Pharisees couldn’t even understand that, even though they were custodians of the law. Remember there was a man called Nicodemus, he was the ruler of the Jews and Jesus said Nic, you must be born again,’ and Nicodemus was stumbling. At his age, with his achievements, he was still stumbling on a fundamental thing like being born again. He even said to Jesus ‘should I enter my mother’s womb the second time and be born.’ Jesus said ah ah! haba, ‘Nicodemus you’ve been preaching all over, you don’t know what it means to be born again? Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, that is water which is symbolic of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God and he said that which is born of flesh is flesh, that which is born of spirit is spirit. So Jesus is talking about a spiritual reality, using water as symbolic, to express spiritual truth and yet Nicodemus couldn’t get that. So, that a father of the faith is struggling with a concept, a doctrinal concept, doesn’t mean that we look down on him. It only simply means he has no understanding or he has not taken the time to patiently study that concept properly.
Okay, so back to Oyedepo and the message on tithe
I don’t know why people have issues with tithing. First of all, the first place where tithe was given in the Bible was in Genesis, when Abraham went to war and came back with the spoil of war and met Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a type of Jesus, he was a typology in the Old Testament and Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek. Remember, nobody told Abraham give a tenth. There was no law, there was nobody who instructed him to do it, it was out of his own volition that he gave the 10 per cent. But historically- and these materials are in the open domain- tithing did not begin with Abraham. Tithing was a taxation system that was done even before; it predated Abraham. That was done where people gave 10 per cent of their earning to help the government run. So, it was from there Abraham got the concept of 10 per cent and he gave the 10 per cent to Melchizedek. No law was given. So that’s why it’s written it was given, he didn’t pay, he gave a tenth, he didn’t pay. To pay means you owe, to give means out of your generosity, that’s the origin. And then under the law of Moses, God said to Israel in Exodus chapter 19, ‘I want to make all of you a kingdom of priests and Israel said to God we don’t want, don’t talk to us, talk to Moses, Moses will talk to us. So, Israel appointed Moses to be a mediator between God and them. Every year when Israel sinned against God, they will bring their goat at the end of the year and give to the priest and the priests were taken from a tribe called Levite and they were not supposed to work, they were not supposed to do anything, they were supposed to attend to the temple day and night. So Moses said since you people appointed me and I’ve appointed a Leviticus priesthood for you people and the Levite don’t have the privilege of working and making an income for themselves and their families… So Israel borrowing from what Abraham did, now it becomes a law, you must pay the tenth so that the priest and the Levite can be taken care of. So that is where it became a law under Moses. So Israel started paying tithe, to take care of the Levites who were in the temple. But if you observe, when Jesus came in the book of Matthew, Jesus didn’t emphasise the tithe, what Jesus said is that they have observed the less weightier matters of the law which is tithe and they have left the weightier matters which is to show mercy, to show compassion.
The tithe in the Old Testament were farm produce. They were to bring spices, they were to bring leaves and they were to bring things from their farm produce. That was the tithe. I have done an extensive exegesis on the tithe. It’s a teaching I did for weeks and I think it’s in a series and I recommend for anybody who really wants to get the details of the exegesis, if they write to my office, it will be sent free. I’m giving it free on this platform. So people can study, listen to it and really come to the truth of the scriptures. This platform will not allow me the opportunity to do a lot of exegesis because of the limitation of the medium we are using. However, it was farm produce that was used as tithe. Also, there were three kinds of tithes, three kinds of tithe that Israel was supposed to pay. In Matthew, Jesus indicted the Pharisees for their observing the less weightier matter of the law and leaving the weightier matters which was kindness, love. And you know under the law, if you break one, you break all. So you are busy observing tithing but you are not walking in love, you are not being kind, you are not being gentle, you are not being good to people; and Jesus rebuked them. That was the only reference Jesus made to the tithe.
We need to quickly understand a classification of the Bible, for the purpose of sound understanding. So when we say Old Testament, what is the Old Testament? Many times when you read the Bible, you see the Bible is divided into two segments; Old Testament and New Testament, but technically, that is not the way it is because the Old Testament is Genesis to Malachi in the Bible segmentation, but technically Genesis is not Old Testament. Old Testament started in Exodus. How do we prove that? Hebrews chapter 8:8 says ‘this is the covenant that I made with the house of Israel in the day when I took them by their hand, to lead them out of Egypt.’ So the old covenant started in Exodus 19 when God led Israel out of Egypt, the movement of the people. So, the Old Testament begins from Exodus to Malachi. So Genesis is not old testament.
So what is Genesis? In Matthew chapter 19:3, up to verse seven, the Pharisees had a discourse with Jesus and they said to Jesus, ‘Moses in the law said you can put away your wife, what do you say?’ Then Jesus said to them, before you get to Deuteronomy, where Moses gave you people the permission to put away your wife, let’s go back to Genesis, because you can’t go to Deuteronomy before Genesis. So Jesus took them back to Genesis and said in the beginning it was not so. In the beginning, God said what he has put together, let no man put asunder. So that means, Genesis is not the law, Genesis is not the old covenant, Genesis is the beginning.
Genesis is the New Testament in a promise that predated the Old Testament. God doesn’t have two covenants; God has only one covenant because God never changes. It is because people think that God has two covenants, that is where they tell you that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament, because they think God has two covenants. Genesis is the way he is today, he never changes.
So what is Matthew to Revelation? It is not the New Testament, even though in the Bible they wrote new testament by translators but technically, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not new testament, they are old testament books with new testament promises because in Matthew 5:17, Jesus said I’m not come to destroy the law. So Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the incarnation, Jesus was under the law. Galatians chapter four verse four to six, it says when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law to redeem them that were under the law. So Jesus operated under the law, which means Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are an extension of the law with promises of the New Testament. So the question will be, where is the New Testament? Matthew twenty six twenty eight, Jesus said this is the New Testament in my blood, which means there will be no new testament until Jesus shed his blood, because the new testament is in the shed blood of Jesus. So which means the New Testament started from Acts of the Apostles, because Acts of the Apostles opens after his resurrection. That means by this time, the blood has been shed, so the New Testament is Acts to Revelation. However, the book of Acts is not core New Testament because Acts is an eye witness account, it’s a historical account of the transitioning of the church from the Old Testament to the New Testament. So in the book of Acts, we have the history of how the church transited from old to new, which means core New Testament started from Romans and Romans begins with the doctrine of righteousness.
You have deviated from the theory of tithe.
I’m coming there
I am coming, but you need to understand this to get back to the tithing thing we are talking about. Therefore, it begins with the doctrine of righteousness which is the book of Romans. So Romans to Revelation is called New Testament.
Now, I gave all of that background to arrive at tithing. Remember I said that Jesus only rebuked the Pharisees for upholding the less weightier matters of the law and abandoning the weightier matters of the law which is justice, mercy, kindness and all of that.
So, in the New Testament which is where we are, what does the New Testament say about tithe? The New Testament is silent on tithe because tithing is not New Testament. Why is tithing not new testament? Because in the New Testament, the love of God has been shared abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost. You are now a new creation, the new testament is a testament of the new creation, the man that is born of God, the man that is born in Christ, that man is not given a percentage to pay, that man is allowed to give in generosity. So that is why the Bible says the New Testament is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the corner stone. So if the new testament is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which makes Christianity historic, and apostolic, that means the apostles of the lamb, the twelve apostles whatever they didn’t do we are not permitted to do, whatever they didn’t teach we are not permitted to teach because Christianity is apostolic, and historic. So which apostle paid tithe? None. Peter didn’t pay tithe, James, John, none of them paid tithe, not even Paul, not even Jesus; none of them paid tithe and none of them received tithe because it’s not an apostolic practice of the New Testament. In the book of Acts which is history, nobody paid tithe. In the entire book of Acts, which means it’s not New Testament, nobody paid tithe, nobody received tithe, in the book of Acts, which means it’s not New Testament. But in the book of Acts, we see generosity. From Acts chapter two, the bible says everybody brought, everybody gave and distribution was made and there was no percentage. People gave liberally, people gave generously, people gave willingly because there are lessons from the tithe. We are not supposed to practice the tithe but we are supposed to get the lessons out of the tithe. Romans chapter fifteen verse four says whatever things were said at aforetime, they were said for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. That means whatever was done in the Old Testament were lessons to be learnt. So, what are lessons to learn from the tithe? What was the tithe used for? Number one, it was used to take care of the Levites and the priest in the temple. Number two, it was used to take care of the temple. So what are the lessons from the tithe that today, when we give to the church we are giving to take care of our men of God, we are giving to take care of the work of God, we are giving to take care of all the bills that ministry incurs, that is why we give. So that is why in the book of Acts, people gave to take care of the work, to take care of the Apostles and to take care of the widows, to take care of the underprivileged, which is New Testament. The problem with many people, and that’s why many people are happy when you say don’t pay tithe. They are happy because it appeals to their stinginess, and many people are happy when you say churches are collecting too much money because they are thinking of stinginess. But when you think about the love of God, you think about what Christ has done for you, there is no money that is too much for you to give. That’s why in the book of Acts, people sowed houses, people gave up everything. So, this is what it is, the tithe is even too little, the tithe is even insignificant, when it comes to understanding the love of God and what it requires to respond to the love of God with generosity. That’s why people sowed and gave everything because when you understand the love of God in the New Testament, then 10 per cent is nothing. You now want to love God, you want to respond to God out of the generosity of your heart. So New Testament, no tithe, people gave generously, people gave willingly, people gave cheerfully, people gave joyfully, because the love of God is in the heart of a man that is born of God in the New Testament. Remember, God is a first giver… for God so loved the world that he gave his only, which means it was sacrificial, it was generous, it was extravagant. So we too, when we respond to that nature of God in us, we also give generously, we give bountifully, we give willingly and we give cheerfully.
So at what point did you stop collecting tithe?
Many years ago, over 10 years ago.
I understood this message, I understood this reality, I came to my church and I told them the truth. I apologized to them for the time I was busy drumming tithing, ‘if you don’t pay tithe you will die, if you don’t pay tithe it will be tight, if you don’t pay tithe, you will have accident, because that’s the law, that’s the Old Testament. I preached all of that, but I preached it in ignorance. I didn’t know, it was what I was taught that I preached. But when I sat down and I looked at the scriptures properly, I looked at the scriptures in the light of Christ and I studied my Bible well, I discovered it was not true, I came to my church, I apologized and my church forgave me and they were willing to hear what I had to say. I began to show them scripture upon scripture, and we stopped the tithe and I began to teach my people generosity. I mean the transition period was rough; it was very rough because the people didn’t know what to do again. So I had to take time and teach, but over the years they have understood the truth of the gospel. Now our people give far, far more than they used to give when they were giving under the yoke of tithing and they gave joyfully and they are happier and they love me more because I was honest with them and I told them the truth.
There are two other doctrinal teachings of yours that have also been seriously criticized. One is on water baptism, the other one is on Holy Communion. Talk to us about these?
Well, you know the thing is, ministers need to really calm down and look at the Bible very well; really, really calm down. In fact, I recommend that we need to go to proper Bible schools and beyond Bible school, ministers need to spend enough time to study the Bible well so that we don’t mislead people, we don’t make people run the race that they are not supposed to run.
Water baptism was initiated by John, that’s why he’s called John the Baptist because he is the founder of water baptism, so there are questions we need to ask, why was John baptizing people? In John chapter one from verse twenty-seven to thirty-two, John said the one who sent me to baptize, he said upon whom you shall see the spirit descending like a dove, he said for this purpose am I come, baptizing with water that I may show forth Jesus to Israel; he said I was with him but I knew him not. Which means water baptism was given to John the Baptist to use in identifying the Christ. Jesus and John were cousins but John didn’t know that Jesus was Jesus, it was water baptism that identified it, then John said I indeed, I John, I baptize with water, but the mightier than I when he comes he will not use water, he will use holy spirit, which means my water is symbolic of holy spirit, which the mightier than I will use, but I will use water to identify him, once he shows up I will decrease, he will increase. Which means the aim for water baptism was to identify Jesus. Once Jesus was identified in water baptism, that was the end of it. That is why in Acts chapter one verse five, when Jesus was talking, he said you shall be baptized with the spirit not many days hence. So John the Baptist already put a disclaimer on water baptism. He said, I John, I use water but Jesus will not use water, he will use spirit, which means, what water was to John, is what the spirit is to Jesus. Remember, Ephesians chapter four verse five, brother Paul speaking doctrinally said, one faith, one spirit, one baptism. So a child of God is supposed to have one baptism, so if there is water baptism, and there is spirit baptism, and you are supposed to have one baptism, which baptism should a Christian have? Spirit baptism. So spirit baptism cancels water baptism because water baptism is symbolic of spirit baptism.
So which one cancelled Holy Communion, When Christ even said ‘do this in remembrance of me?’
Holy Communion is a whole different one, so let’s conclude water baptism then we can go to Holy Communion. Again, let me interject. All that I am doing here in this interview is not exhaustive and you know doctrinal matters require thoroughness, they require a lot of exegesis. So this does not substitute the place of exegesis, these are just teasers we are giving. But people need to go and study and we have materials on all of these subjects, in-depth teachings with scriptures, explaining itself. So water baptism does not make you a believer, and lack of water baptism does not make you an unbeliever.
The thief on the cross, if water baptism was that key to salvation, Jesus would have asked the thief on the cross to go down and be baptized with water first, but Jesus said to him, ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’ God doesn’t have double standards, which means all a man requires to be in heaven is faith in Christ, water baptism not required.
Now, I said that to move to your next point, what about Holy Communion? If you read the Bible very well, Genesis to Revelation, there is nothing like Holy Communion in the entire Bible, it’s not anywhere.
Breaking of bread is there.
That word, Holy Communion is not in the Bible. Breaking of bread is not Holy Communion, Holy Communion is not breaking of bread, there is also supper; the Lord’s Supper is not Holy Communion and the Lord’s supper is not breaking of bread, so what is Holy Communion?
Holy Communion is a coinage of the Catholic Church. It is taken from the word Passover, what we have in the Bible is the Passover, one of the seven feasts that Moses instituted for the Jews to point to Jesus. There is the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of Pentecost, the feast of the Passover. These were feasts that Israel were celebrating and Moses used it to point to what Jesus will do so that Israel will have it in their mind that Jesus was going to come and he was going to come for this purpose. But feasts were used as metaphor to communicate that reality. The full teaching on it is called discerning the Lord’s body. For the purpose of this, anybody who writes to our office, we will send a teaching for free so the person can go and listen carefully and study. The Passover was on before Jesus came; which means it was not introduced by Jesus. The Passover was a feast introduced by Moses that is part of Moses’ teaching ministry to the Jews, communicating the reality of Christ. In the Passover, there were four cups and those four cups were symbolic of restoration, deliverance, you know, I’ve forgotten the other two. But there were four cups, then, there were spices. Then, it was a whole feast, there was unleavened bread, that is bread that doesn’t have yeast, and because it was the law, it must be strictly observed and all of those were symbolic of what Christ will do and they continued that practice right into Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Again, remember I did a background, that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not New Testament; they are books of the law with new testament promises. That is why it continued but when Jesus was taking it with the disciples, he said to them, ‘I will no more do this with you people, until that day in my father’s kingdom, until that day in my father’s kingdom. You ask why did he say do this in remembrance. We need to understand that the word remembrance is not memorial, it’s not English. It’s Bible language. Remembrance there means ‘with the understanding of me.’ That is, when you are doing this, the understanding should be me, that is this is a pointer to me, now, if it is remembrance as memorial. You only do memorial service for the dead, you don’t do memorial for the living. Is Jesus dead or alive?
He is alive, so no memorial. You only do memorial for the dead, you don’t do for the one that is alive, Jesus died, three days he was alive, he rose. That means there is no need for memorial service because he is alive, he is alive in our heart. We have him in us every day, so there is no need for memorial service.
Let me move into the concepts. In Acts of the Apostle, they were breaking bread, breaking bread is love feast, it’s not communion. It’s just love feast, where everybody brings food from their house and we all eat and share fellowship together. The Lord’s supper is dinner, it’s not Passover. So Lord’s Supper is not Passover, breaking of bread is not Passover because Passover expired in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So first Corinthians chapter five verse seven, brother Paul now said Christ is our Passover and he has been crucified for us. So today, that Passover has been fulfilled by the death of Christ who now lives in our heart. I know that many people will say but in the book of first Corinthians chapter eleven, Brother Paul talked about the communion. No. Brother Paul didn’t talk about the communion in first Corinthians eleven. He was talking about the Lord’s supper. He said I have received of the Lord Jesus, how that in that night when he was betrayed, took bread. He broke it and he said this is my body broken for you, eat it in remembrance of me, then he took wine and he says, this is my blood of the new covenant drink it in remembrance of me. Brother Paul was making a reference. He was not teaching. Why did he make the reference? Because in the pre-text and in the post-text of that scripture, he was dealing with love among the brethren, and he was dealing with them, he was telling them you people say you love one another yet when you come together and you say you have come for the Lord’s supper, some of you eat and some are hungry, some of you drink and are drunk and some didn’t drink and you call this the Lord’s supper? He said this is not the Lord’s Supper. Then he now gave them a history of how Jesus died, his body was broken, his blood was shed, which makes us one body. Which means if I’m sick and I am your brother, it is you that is sick, my sickness should concern you, my problem should concern you and if you really love me and you are walking in the love of God, you should reach out and see to it that I am well. He was dealing with their attitude to one another and he used that Lord’s supper as illustration to show that you can’t be eating and I’m hungry and you say we are in love. That’s what Paul was dealing with in first Corinthians eleven. If you read from chapter ten to eleven, because you can’t read eleven without ten, in fact, you can’t even read ten without three, because in first Corinthians chapter three brother Paul began by saying I couldn’t speak to you as unto spiritual but as unto canal, you are babes, he said because there is division among you. So that sets the tone for why he will speak the way he will speak in chapter four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, that this people were babes, so he couldn’t communicate spiritual realities to them without using parables, without using symbols, without using metaphors and that is why he used that tone to communicate. But you won’t see that practice in the New Testament church because Jesus is the reality of our Passover today and he lives on our inside. However, I have a book, it is titled the communion table. It’s a book and people can get it from our office, and I have a teaching that we can send for free to people, it’s called discerning the Lord’s body. If you read that Corinthians, then brother Paul says for this cause, some of you are sick, some are weak and some die, for which cause he said they do not discern the Lord’s body. What does it mean not to discern the Lord’s body? You are my brother in Christ, you are hungry and instead of me giving you food that I have, I pray for you, I’m not discerning you, because what you need is not prayer, what you need is food, and I have the food, I should share with you. my brother in Christ is sick, he is in the hospital, instead of me to help him pay for his bills, I am praying and I am doing nothing about his bills, so Paul said because you do not look after each other some of you are dying, because nobody is caring, some of you are weak because nobody is caring, and some of you are sick, he was dealing with love among the brethren, he was dealing with their attitude so that is what brother Paul was communicating and that is what the Passover teaches us, to care for each other, to look after each other and you know, to take care of one another.
Away from the controversies, you are not a member of what they call in Akwa Ibom State, Fathers of Faith. Why?
What’s the definition of a father of faith? That’s what we begin from. What really defines a father of faith? They are not titles, they are not political titles. So, who is a father of faith? A father of faith is not somebody that has been in ministry for hundred years. That’s not a father of faith. So who is a father of faith? Brother Paul says in the book of Timothy, he said though you have a thousand instructors, I am your father because I have begotten you through the gospel. So who is a father of faith? A father of faith is one who is responsible for people’s doctrinal persuasion, doctrinal persuasion. The word father in the Greek is the word pateras, pateras means a nourisher, pateras means one who feeds you, and one who looks after your spiritual welfare, that’s a father of faith. So by doctrinal, scriptural definition, I am a full-fledged father of faith because I am responsible for thousands of believers and ministers of the gospel’s doctrinal persuasion. It is not an association of fathers of faith. It’s not a gathering, it’s a responsibility that a man has over the people that he is responsible for their doctrinal persuasion.
If you are a father of faith in that context, how come when other fathers of faith in Akwa Ibom are doing things, you are not part of them?
Well, I discovered that the responsibilities do not include being part of a political association. If you read the Bible very clearly, men of God don’t have the responsibility of determining politics. Jesus was on earth and in the days of Jesus, there was politics, there was governance, he didn’t make any commentary. Not once was he found in political circles, not once was he found in government circles, not once and Jesus is the model for ministry. The Apostles, Paul, Peter, James, all of them, not once will you find any of them. The only time Paul came before Agrippa, he preached the gospel to Agrippa, that’s all, he preached to him the gospel. So I do not see that as a definition of what a father of faith ought to do. Rather, I know that when government has issues, they come to fathers whom they believe in, to pray for them, to counsel them. And a number of times, public servants, people in government have approached me, I have given them my piece of advice and I’ve prayed for them. I don’t have to be seen around. I pray for my government every day, I pray for my governor every day, I pray for my president every day, I wish them well because they’ve a huge responsibility of putting together policies that determine the well-being of the society that we live in. But I don’t have to be all over them, I don’t have to be there, that’s not my assignment, my assignment is to raise believers, preach the gospel, get people saved, and provide spiritual oversight for the people that I am responsible for.
So what do you make of fathers of faith endorsing who becomes the next governor. For example, ahead of 2023, that clamour is already there, fathers of faith. I read that they even spoke out openly that they are going to be part of those who will decide on who becomes the next governor of Akwa Ibom State?
Well, as citizens of Nigeria, they have a right to do that, as citizens of Nigeria. It’s their civic right, it’s not a doctrinal right, it’s their civic right as citizens.
Yeah! But coming together under one umbrella to do this?
It’s good, it’s a good thing, I do not condemn it, just like any pressure group can come together, just like any association, young people’s association to determine the next governor, it’s a civic right, anybody can exercise it. I will exercise mine when the time comes, I will go to the polling station and vote whoever I want.
That is just going to vote, but I’m talking about a group of fathers of faith, pastors….
A man of God must not be partisan, I am not partisan. I don’t talk about it on my pulpit. I don’t influence what my members do with politics. I don’t. They have a right to whoever they want to be their candidate, because you see as a pastor, I have PDP members in my church, I have APC members in my church. I even have members of other parties in my church, I’m their father. I can’t take sides, I do not do it and they know it. In my church, I don’t do such things. I know who I want to vote for and I quietly vote who I want to vote and as a spiritual father, I wish all my members well, whether they are PDP or APC or whatever parties they are, I pray for them, I wish them well but in my office as their pastor, I don’t have, I don’t take side, I don’t, because a man of God must not be partisan.